Steph vs. LeBron: The NBA’s Dream Duel Bounces Again

Steph Curry. LeBron James. It’s an surprising playoff re-rendezvous for 2 NBA all-timers, pitting Curry’s Golden State Warriors in opposition to James’s new-look (and never as horrible as anticipated!) Los Angeles Lakers.

Sport 1 of the Western Convention semifinals is Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. No whining, East Coasters. Plan your pregame naps, espressos and cocktails accordingly.

This shock version is going on as a result of Steph went Full Steph Bonkers Sunday, ousting the perky Sacramento Kings with a historic 50-point efficiency and reminding each the basketball obsessives and the informal observers why he’s the best present in sports activities.

“Full Steph Bonkers” doesn’t do it justice, really. Curry was a ruthless tormentor. On a day Sacramento appeared destined to gentle its purple victory beam, he punished the Kings with a barrage of layups, short-range jumpers and his customary didhereallyjustdothat 3-pointers. He took 38 photographs, a private excessive mark. The 50-piece is the very best scoring efficiency in a Sport 7, by anybody, in NBA historical past.

Ask your self: Is there something extra enjoyable to look at than Steph Curry on a heater?

Trick query. In fact there isn’t.

This version of Curry vs. James options up to date geography. The 2 met in 4 consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018, again when James was on his second marriage to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors took three of these, however the Cavs’ lone win in 2016—from a 3-1 deficit in opposition to a Golden State workforce that had gained 73 common season video games—is taken into account the dramatic masterpiece of the foursome.

Apr 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) stands on the Lakers logo at midcourt in the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies during game three of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Apr 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers ahead LeBron James (6) stands on the Lakers emblem at midcourt within the first quarter in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies throughout sport three of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Area. Obligatory Credit score: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities (USA TODAY Sports activities by way of Reuters Con)

As for this one, few noticed it coming. Had you instructed me midseason that Curry’s Warriors and James’s Lakers would meet within the Western Convention semifinals, I’d have cackled like a madman in a horror film. Anybody would have cackled like a madman in a horror film.

AHAHAHAHAHA. Not taking place. Please.

That’s as a result of the defending champ Warriors spent a lot of the season as an underwhelming mess—they couldn’t discover rhythm, they couldn’t play protection, and so they couldn’t beat a junior varsity bass fishing workforce when taking part in on the street. They had been banged up, lacking key gamers like Andrew Wiggins and nowhere close to near the membership that blasted previous Boston for a title final June.

Nonetheless, they had been higher than James and his chronically dysfunctional Lakers, who had been riddled by harm, inertia, and a roster that appeared constructed by way of vodka, darts and a blindfold. It felt like one other misplaced season in early February, when James toppled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring report and promptly went on the shelf with a bum foot. A flurry of deadline trades regarded like a determined shake of the snow globe.

In some way, the shake labored. The Laker trades (and departures, just like the miscast level guard Russell Westbrook) started to repay, sufficient that James situated a doctor who instructed him he might return on his balky paw. “The LeBron James of ft,” he known as the doc.) James joined a re-energized Anthony Davis and a large-bodied membership that isn’t a straightforward mark. With new names like Rui Hachimura and assured sidekicks like Austin Reaves, the Lakers pushed by means of a postseason “play-in” sport versus Minnesota and thumped a chirpy Memphis membership to succeed in this level.

It’s a jarring reversal. Showtime, if not revived, is a minimum of revived-ish. An 86-year-old Jack Nicholson has even surfaced courtside—in shades, after all.

LeBron isn’t peak LeBron. He’s 38, settles for too many 3s, and there are defensive sequences when he appears to be like prepared for soup and an early bedtime. However there are way more sequences when he appears to be like just like the sharpest 38-year-old participant ever, capable of explode and elevate and infrequently bend the sport to his will.

He isn’t to be dismissed. Ask Memphis pest Dillon Brooks, who selected to impress his elder—“He’s outdated…I poke bears,” the dour Grizzlies enforcer stated of James—and obtained himself a brisk ticket again to Tennessee.

As for Curry, he’s the whole spectacle, nonetheless. This Warriors workforce is his workforce, totally—the B-side of Kevin Durant is lengthy gone, Draymond Inexperienced nonetheless self-destructs and confidante Klay Thompson has been up and down since his accidents. On Sunday Curry wanted to place the entire season on his again, and whereas the Warriors obtained contributions like Kevon Looney’s 21 rebounds, they’ll solely go so far as Curry takes them.

A Steph vs. LeBron collection instantly eclipses each different story line in these playoffs. Phoenix and Denver have a zesty Western semi that includes a pair of fluid former MVPs, Durant and Nikola Jokic. Over within the East, you’ve obtained the deep defending finalist Celtics versus an old-school rival, Philadelphia, and a rowdy bar struggle between the Knicks and the Zombie-tastic, eighth-seeded Warmth.

None of it compares to Dubs-Lakers. Curry and James are as massive as the sport will get, nonetheless very important, nonetheless succesful and out of the blue again at one another.

Right here we go, once more. Espressos on the prepared. Can’t wait.